I want to take a moment to answer a question that shows up in my e-mail box quite often: Why is Eddy the Realtor getting all the blame for the contract not having a proper “penalty clause”?
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You are right, of course. In the end the fault lies with me. But if you remember, our family lawyer of many years in Victoria, B.C., quit in a rage because he felt Mexican laws would not protect us enough and it might come back on his head if something went wrong. His firm backed him up; they felt their insurance coverage might take a hit if we sued for professional incompetence.
All right then, why did I not get a Mexican lawyer of my own?
I discovered that the Canadian consulate here in Vallarta had a list of recommended local lawyers. Now I am not sure how fair this is, but I found the consul to be horrible with little or no desire to help her fellow countrymen. She could not have been ruder or colder to me if she had tried.
In fact there was an elderly woman outside the offices crying because she was getting no assistance in returning her husband’s body home to Montreal from this same woman and her cohorts. When I asked to have a few words with the consul about my problem, she said, “Do you think I have time to speak with you? I am a very busy person! Here is the list. Goodbye!”
There was no one else in the office besides me, but I could hear the woman weeping outside.
This attitude brought back memories of my youth when I travelled the world. Most young Canadian back-packers quickly discovered that the Canuck embassies around the globe treated their own as if they were some sort of embarrassment, not to be taken seriously and mostly ignored. The majority of us would run to the Brit or Australian embassies instead, where we were kindly treated in the face of our own people’s indifference.
I was so upset by the way we are still treated by our over-entitled, over-pensioned public servants that when Eddy suggested I use his in-house lawyer, I tore up the government list. Perhaps not a smart move, but it felt great, plus I came to know that the list contained some of the more expensive large law firms, so it seemed a double win. So that is how it came to pass that the penalty clause was not filled in where it said what the penalty was.
To return to my tale, it was early January 2012 and the kids had returned to Canada after a great holiday at the hotel down the street from our condo where we still did not have electricity, an elevator and the final pipe laid. I don’t want to think where the small amount of sewage produced by the workers actually went if the pipe to the city’s main line was sitting happily in the sun on the street below. All I knew was that the many men named Pepe who worked around the building were using the clean and sparkling facilities in our condo.
More than once I found all three of our bathrooms in use when I arrived on my morning rounds.
There was no mortification on their part when they came out of the bathrooms with their tabloids. In fact through gestures and a few English words they congratulated me on the fine towels we had provided.
Word had spread, they said, and now all the labourers in the building made it a point to trek to the top of the building to try out our toilets. The leader beamed as if to say he felt that we should be aware of this happy fact. I declined the many offered handshakes.
We finally had our terrace tiled with the tile that we had not picked, but it was much better than the alternative. We began to make the “gringo dance” to Costco and Home Depot to buy furniture for the deck and balcony. These stores are full of groups of ex-pats standing around sharing horror stories about what to buy or not and when the next shipment of this or that is expected.
Most sales assistants at these wonderful places do not speak much English, so when a group does find someone who is even semi-fluent, they make him their own but share a little with the others who are circling in desperation. There is much shouting and exasperation. It is one of the few indoor sports in Puerto Vallarta.
Copyright Christopher Dalton 2015
Next column May 6: Eddy returns.